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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ancient genre of Japanese poetry. The tanka is a graceful unrhymed five-line poem consisting of 31 syllables, divided into lines of 5–7–5–7–7 syllables.

The tanka were generally nature or love lyrics, courtly panegyrics, or poems about the parting of lovers or the transient nature of life. Most of the poems in the Manyoshu anthology (second half of the eighth century) were tanka. Later, until the 15th century, the tanka was virtually the only poetic genre cultivated among the aristocracy. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the tanka was superseded by new genres, the renga and haiku.

Beginning in the 18th century, interest in the classical literature of the ninth to 11th centuries resulted in attempts to revive the tanka. Poets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Hiroshi Yosano, Akiko Yosano, Shiki Masaoka, and Takashi Nagatsuka, renewed the content of the tanka with new imagery and with colloquial speech. Later, Takuboku Ishikawa and other democratic poets imbued the tanka with socially oriented themes.


In Russian translation:

Iz iaponskoi poezii. Moscow, 1964.

laponskie piatistishiia. Moscow, 1971.

Man”esiu, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1971–72.


Konrad, N. I. Iaponskaia literatura. Moscow, 1974.
Istoriia sovremennoi iaponskoi literatury. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Japanese.)
Literatura Vostoka v srednie veka, vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Kitahara introduced a new symbolic, decadent style into the genre of the traditional 31-syllable tanka with the publication of the collection Kiri no hana ("Paulownia Blossoms") in 1913.
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